Before a large and appreciative crowd in the Moanalua High School Gymnasium, the man behind the renown Kalakaua Basketball Clinic today was honored for five decades of serving the community and helping thousands of students find success both on and off the court.
State Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14 – Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea) was on hand to present a proclamation to Coach Dennis Agena and his staff in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Kalakaua Basketball Clinic during a surprise ceremony at the end of practice.
“Coach Agena is an absolutely remarkable, generous individual who deserves all the accolades being bestowed on him today,” said Sen. Kim. “How he’s given so much of his time and his own resources for the last fifty years is an inspiration to us all. He exemplifies selflessness and strong leadership through his coaching and guidance by teaching students how to be a good athlete and even greater citizen.”
Sen. Kim’s son, Micah, was a participant in the clinic as a youngster and she witnessed how the program helps build character. “I was proud to see Micah blossom not only in his basketball skills but also as a responsible young man who learned the rewards of hard work and team work,” she said.
Coach Agena is recognized as one of the most respected basketball coaches in the state and founder of the renown Kalakaua Basketball Clinic. Thousands of students have gone through the clinic that stresses the importance of mastering fundamental basketball skills, as well as team building skills. Equally important are the values students learn through the program that they carry with them through life: respect, commitment, dedication, and humility.
While the clinic has moved locations over the years, the program has consistently been led by Dennis Agena, who along with his wife Lani, have made it their life mission to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. He and his staff conduct the clinic on a completely voluntary basis. The fee for the clinic goes towards maintaining the equipment and covering the expenses for the athletes to travel for tournaments.
Some of the players who have gone through the clinic to become successful athletes at the high school,college and professional level include Derrick Low, Kyle Pape, Blaine Gaison, Cliff LaBoy,Bobby Nash, Dean Shimamoto and Kahi Villa. Also, Nani Cockett, Brandy Richardson, Teddi Pila, BJ Itoman, Iwalani Rodrigues, Tiana Fuertes, and Melanie Azama.
“I’m proud of all the kids. You develop them, you mentor them, you see them grow up, get married, they have kids and I think soon it will be my third generation of coaching these kids and I’m happy for doing that,” said Dennis Agena. As for today’s honors, Agena was humbled. “It’s not about me, it’s about the product you produce out of the program that makes Coach Agena and Coach Myles (Akamine) look good.”